i was sitting in clinic yesterday at 5:45 pm waiting to sign out the last patient and all i wanted to do was crawl into my bed and remove myself from society (just temporarily, of course!). i chalk this up 100% to stress and the fact that sometimes i am just too high-strung for my own good.
honestly, my life isn’t even that stressful right now — i’m working a NORMAL-hours type of job (for this month at least) and i don’t have kids to care for. i think i just need to work on how i process the challenges of life and go about my day. fortunately, this article from zen habits came to my attention yesterday evening and gave me a few nice tips to work with.
here they are:
(with my comments in italics after each tip)
1. One thing at a time. This is the simplest and best way to start reducing your stress, and you can start today. Right now. Focus as much as possible on doing one thing at a time. Clear your desk of distractions. Pick something to work on. Need to write a report? Do only that. Remove distractions such as phones and email notifications while you’re working on that report. If you’re going to do email, do only that. This takes practice, and you’ll get urges to do other things. Just keep practicing and you’ll get better at it.
this is something i completely agree with — and yet find SO hard in the medical world! i will make it my #1 goal as i go abou things today — whether i am listening to a conference, seeing a patient, or writing a note, i will try not to let urges to do other things (daydream, check email, look something up) get in the way.
2. Simplify your schedule. A hectic schedule is a major cause of high stress. Simplify by reducing the number of commitments in your life to just the essential ones. Learn to say no to the rest — and slowly get out of commitments that aren’t beneficial to you. Schedule only a few important things each day, and put space between them. Get out of meetings when they aren’t absolutely essential. Leave room for down time and fun.
oh good, i LOVE down time and fun. and this month there is no reason to leave these two things out!
3. Get moving. Do something each day to be active — walk, hike, play a sport, go for a run, do yoga. It doesn’t have to be grueling to reduce stress. Just move. Have fun doing it.
check! headed to the gym in 5 minutes . . .
4. Develop one healthy habit this month. Other than getting active, improving your health overall will help with the stress. But do it one habit at a time. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks. Floss every day. Quit smoking. Cook something healthy for dinner. Drink water instead of soda. One habit at a time.
i am pretty healthy sometimes, but there is still definite room for improvement. in fact, just yesterday i made the mistake of eating our free ‘mexican’ (yes, that’s in quotes for a reason) lunch yesterday at work and immediately regretted it. it was wayyyy less healthy and less satisfying than the lunch i had brought, and made me want to take a 2 hour nap immediately afterwards. i only make this error once in a while and the aftereffects quickly remind me why i prefer to bring my own stuff every day
5. Do something calming. What do you enjoy that calms you down? For many people, it can be the “get moving” activity discussed above. But it could also be taking a nap, or a bath, or reading, or having sex (which can also be considered a “get moving” activity if you do it for longer than 5 minutes). Other people are calmed by housework or yardwork. Some people like to meditate, or take a nature walk. Find your calming activity and try to do it each day.
ooh, i need some calming. laundry actually calms me down, as does some nice stretchy yoga.
6. Simplify your finances. Finances can be a drain on your energy and a major stressor. If that’s true with you, figure out ways to simplify things. Automate savings and bill payments and debt payments. Spend less by going shopping (at malls or online) much less. Find ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money.
i have to admit that i don’t think about finances very much except when thoughts wander to our UNSOLD HOUSE. i think i do a good job of not worrying too much about it, though (some might say i don’t worry enough . . . but so far nothing catastrophic has occurred.
7. Have a blast! Have fun each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I like to play with my kids — they take my mind off everything and are really hilarious. I also like to play sports (again, often with my kids). Board games are fun. Sex, again, can be a fun activity. Whatever you choose, be sure to laugh.
i am lucky in that i get to have silly, unbridled fun at times while at work with the patients! kids are awesome for this.
8. Get creative. Throwing yourself into a creative activity is another great way to de-stress and to prevent stress. I like writing, but others like to paint or play music or sketch or make pottery or do interior design or build things.
hmmm. i would think this blog counts as an adequate creative outlet . . .
9. Declutter. This is a favorite of mine. I like to take 20-30 minutes and just go through a room, getting rid of stuff we don’t use or need anymore. I look around at anything that’s cluttering up a room, and get rid of it or find a better place for it. When I’m done, I have a nice, peaceful enviornment for work, play, and living. Do this a little at a time — it can be one of your “fun activities”.
dude, it’s a favorite of mine too. i love to throw things out and have my desk neat and organized each morning.
10. Be early. I will admit that it’s hard to be early when you have to get 6 kids ready (seriously — try it!). But being late can be very stressful. Try to leave earlier by getting ready earlier, or by scheduling more space between events. Things always take longer than normal, so schedule some buffer time: extra time to get ready, to commute, to do errands before you need to be somewhere, to attend a meeting before another scheduled appointment. If you get somewhere early, it’s good to have some reading material.
and with this one, i am off to the gym bright and early! i stress SO much about being late that following this tip is definitely worth it to me